March 24 is DIabetes Alert Day and everyone should take notice. More than 57 million Americans have pre-diabetes. This is a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet diabetes. Add in the number who have already been diagnosed with diabetes and the number is staggering. Consequences of this chronic disease can be devastating not only in potential premature death but also in quality of life prior to death. People with diabetes suffer higher rates of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, kidney disease, blindness, as well as many other types of complications.
Ignoring diabetes is risky business. Recent research has shown that even during pre-diabetes, some long-term damage may already be occurring in the body, especially in the heart and circulatory system. Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have pre-diabetes. Research has also shown that if you take action to manage your blood glucose during pre-diabetes, you can delay or even prevent type 2 diabetes from ever developing.
Whether you are in a pre-diabetes or diabetes stage or simply want to prevent type 2 diabetes altogether, there are things you can do to manage blood glucose. At the top of the list is adopting a healthy lifestyle. Changing habits need not be difficult if you make small lifestyle changes one step at a time over months and years. Fortunately, only a few small changes can have a huge impact on your health.
Better nutrition (and weight loss if needed) plus increased activity are critical areas of focus in the prevention of diabetes. Setting realistic goals will help you get started. Add more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet and decrease your daily intake of calories a small amount. Plan to lose just 5 or 10 pounds with a goal of keeping those pounds off. Aim for 30 minutes of any physical activity you enjoy for most days of the week. The goal is to just move -- it need not be strenuous exercise although that also has benefit. Just remember to start with baby steps and gradually increase levels of activity over time.
So, set a start date and promise yourself to take charge of your health by eating healthier and moving more. It's a sure bet that you would not regret it.